What does a crazy parent have to do with the FMLA? Seems like a fair question to ask. As a parent, most days I come away feeling a bit crazy.
Instead of pondering the merits of crazy parents, or parents driven crazy, let's ponder the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division's (DOL/WHD) recent Interpretation of the in loco parentis language contained within the FMLA regulations. This recent pronouncement from the DOL/WHD appears to expand the group of employees who are able to claim parent status for purposes of taking FMLA to care for a child. The regulations explain that individuals "who are 'in loco parentis' include those with day-to-day responsibilities to care for and financially support a child." The new DOL/WHD interpretation softens this requirement by stating an employee qualifies as a parent by showing either day-to-day care or financial support so long as the employee intends to assume parental responsibility. The practical implication of this interpretation is to further expand the group of individuals able to assert leave rights as the parent of a child. Be mindful of this interpretative expansion as you receive FMLA requests related to the care of a child.
You can find the text of the interpretation at http://www.dol.gov/whd/opinion/adminIntrprtn/FMLA/2010/FMLAAI2010_3.htm